If you want to fully enjoy the magical atmosphere of Lake Como, I recommend that you travel it by boat, that you sail its waters with the wind in your hair.
Sudden and refreshing splashes surprise me as the motorboat glides quickly over the surface of the water. The sparkle of the sun and the clear sky make this corner of Lake Como, right in front of Bellagio, even more beautiful. It really seems to me "the navel of the world": there are views of intoxicating beauty and everywhere is swarming with people. While the ferries transport throngs of enthusiastic American tourists and some jet skis approach the scenic swimming pools of the Grand Hotels to take a peek, our Riva runs along the coast and allows us to admire, from an unprecedented perspective, villages, villas, docks and gardens.
We started from the small port of Bellagio, one of the most famous localities of the Lario, located on the tip that divides the two branches of the lake, the western one that descends towards Como and the eastern one that takes you to the town of Lecco. While we enjoy our boat tour, the square of Bellagio welcomes an exhibition of luxury cars, mostly flamboyant Ferraris and some vintage Porsches, while the streets are crowded with festive day-trippers.
In front of Bellagio stands the characteristic profile of Varenna, a village so suggestive that it provokes real lightning strikes: cobbled streets that wind between the houses, steep stairways that lead to delightful beaches, craft shops and inviting ice cream parlours. And then the famous lovers' walk; a walkway that skims the surface of the water with its red railing and connects the landing stage to the main square. If you are in the mood to walk, I would also point out the path that leads from Varenna to the source of Fiumelatte, a very short stream (it seems to be the shortest river in Italy, it flows only for 250 meters before throwing itself into the lake!) spectacular for its thundering and bubbling waters.
A few steps from the center it is possible to visit two historic houses, Villa Cipressi and Villa del Monastero, ancient palaces with precious interiors and magnificent botanical gardens. Here in Varenna are concentrated some of the most photographed views of the entire lake: the colorful houses, the terraced gardens that slope down towards the shore, the neoclassical temple and the wonderful loggia of Villa Monastero, a panoramic site full of enveloping light.
As we return to Bellagio, Filippo, the owner of the motorboat, recommends a stop at the Nesso ravine, a deep natural gorge, which can also be reached on foot via a panoramic walkway. Two streams converge in the canyon carved into the rock forming a spectacular waterfall, while at the bottom of the ravine stands the ancient Ponte della Civera. Some daredevil young people jump into the lake right from the top of the bridge, but we prefer to let ourselves be lulled by the waves and enjoy the view from the boat. With the wind in our hair, to fill our hearts with wonder.